The Importance of a Piece of Paper: Stories

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9780802141811: The Importance of a Piece of Paper: Stories

In his first foray into short fiction, award-winning poet and memoirist Jimmy Santiago Baca explores the territory where old-world traditions meet new-world ambitions, and characters try to make something of themselves, while keeping their souls intact. In "Matilda's Garden," an old farmer pines for his wife of fifty years who died in her sleep one night months before. He is lured to the garden in the middle of the night by what he thinks is her presence, only to meet a gruesome fate. In "The Importance of a Piece of Paper," two siblings must face the brother who has betrayed them by selling his share of the family land, leaving an entire community vulnerable. In "The Three Sons of Julia," a long-suffering mother whose one request is that all her sons come home for the fourth of July, watches her dream burst as two of her sons-one a successful businessman and the other a hard-drinking ex-con-nearly destroy her house, and each other. Merging a refreshing innocence with a profound understanding of the world's brutality, The Importance of a Piece of Paper is a daring and arresting work that is at once fearless, tender, and inspiring.

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From Publishers Weekly:

The rural Southwest landscape of Baca's short stories is inhabited by outsiders: drug addicts and convicts, absentee mothers and runaways. Baca's first collection of fiction (he is the author of the memoir A Place to Stand and several books of poetry) paints a picture of Chicano life that is at once cruel and sweetly redemptive. In the best of these eight stories, gritty realism is deftly leavened by flights of lyricism. In "Enemies," a trio of newly released convicts find their hostilities giving way to fear and tenderness; in "Valentine's Day Card," an orphan becomes engrossed in a fantasy that his mother will come for a visit. Other stories are allegorical and softer around the edges. In the fairy tale-like "Matilda's Garden," an elderly farmer mourns the death of his beloved wife by working the land she cultivated. In the title story, the couple's three children-a lawyer, a cowboy and a former graduate student-fight over the farm they have inherited. Baca's characters are occasionally mired in overworked prose ("These were the absurd dreams of the foolish young boys they had been, dreams that were now eaten away like apple cores thrown out of a window for the crows of dawn to peck to pulp") and formulaic situations. Still, Baca has the ability to convey much in few words, and his precise use of detail delivers small, startling truths.
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From Booklist:

Baca is known for his poetry and memoir, A Place to Stand (2001), and his short fiction seems like second nature although this is his first short story collection. He writes poignantly about the sacrifices of mothers, the disappointments of family, and the heartbreaking losses of life, and is somehow able to merge life's wear-and-tear quality with its power to transform. Sometimes there's a strange weaving of the magical with the real, sometimes Baca's tales are brutal or realistically bitter, and they are often about deliverance. He sensitively portrays the troubling tension between Chicanos who want to rise above their upbringings, but turn, instead, to superficial obsessions with status and money, and those who fall into the trap of "victimness," and turn to violence, drugs, and destructive thinking. Baca has the potent ability to depict truths behind stereotypes, and speaks up for those who often have no voice. Surely this insightful collection will make people listen. Janet St. John
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Book Description TBS The Book Service Ltd, United Kingdom, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In his first foray into short fiction, award-winning poet and memoirist Jimmy Santiago Baca explores the territory where old-world traditions meet new-world ambitions, and characters try to make something of themselves, while keeping their souls intact. In Matilda s Garden, an old farmer pines for his wife of fifty years who died in her sleep one night months before. He is lured to the garden in the middle of the night by what he thinks is her presence, only to meet a gruesome fate. In The Importance of a Piece of Paper, two siblings must face the brother who has betrayed them by selling his share of the family land, leaving an entire community vulnerable. In The Three Sons of Julia, a long-suffering mother whose one request is that all her sons come home for the fourth of July, watches her dream burst as two of her sons-one a successful businessman and the other a hard-drinking ex-con-nearly destroy her house, and each other. Merging a refreshing innocence with a profound understanding of the world s brutality, The Importance of a Piece of Paper is a daring and arresting work that is at once fearless, tender, and inspiring. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780802141811

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Book Description TBS The Book Service Ltd, United Kingdom, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In his first foray into short fiction, award-winning poet and memoirist Jimmy Santiago Baca explores the territory where old-world traditions meet new-world ambitions, and characters try to make something of themselves, while keeping their souls intact. In Matilda s Garden, an old farmer pines for his wife of fifty years who died in her sleep one night months before. He is lured to the garden in the middle of the night by what he thinks is her presence, only to meet a gruesome fate. In The Importance of a Piece of Paper, two siblings must face the brother who has betrayed them by selling his share of the family land, leaving an entire community vulnerable. In The Three Sons of Julia, a long-suffering mother whose one request is that all her sons come home for the fourth of July, watches her dream burst as two of her sons-one a successful businessman and the other a hard-drinking ex-con-nearly destroy her house, and each other. Merging a refreshing innocence with a profound understanding of the world s brutality, The Importance of a Piece of Paper is a daring and arresting work that is at once fearless, tender, and inspiring. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780802141811

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